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Title: Electric power systems evolution in Merseyside and North Wales : the technical history of a region's electrification
Author: Woodward, Gordon
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 1996
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This thesis is a contribution to the technical history of electricity supply in the region of Britain for which the Merseyside and North Wales Electricity Board assumed statutory responsibility for electricity distribution upon nationalisation of the industry in 1948. The evolution of the electric power systems in the region are considered, for the first time. against a background of emerging technology elsewhere in Britain, the United States and on the Continent. The natural resources of the region included coalfields saltfields and slate beds together with high mountains having hydro-power potential. All were to influence power system development In an area exceeding 4,700 square miles. An examination of electricity generation and distribution within this region from the first legislation in 1879 to 1948 Illustrates the variety of systems adopted and the influence of consulting engineers on their choice, Many eminent engineers representing a wide diversity of technical opinion were engaged as consultants during the formative years of the region's electricity supply industry. The consequences of early decisions were to have profound effects on later growth of Individual supply authorities and are related to developments in generation and distribution technology. The reactions to change are considered In an industry in which, at one period, technology advanced rapidly from innovation to obsolescence. The origins of municipal electricity undertakings are traced from local authority and council records, sources which have previously received little or no attention. The pioneering work at Liverpool, often in advance of developments elsewhere is examined. Despite the questionable economic validity of plants for combined refuse destruction and electricity generation many were established In the region during the period 1898 to 1904. A number of manufacturing companies developed public electricity supply systems in their locality having installed independent plants often on a scale exceeding municipal schemes of the period. The extension of supply areas beyond their municipal boundaries by local authorities following the adoption of high voltage alternating current systems are examined, Compared with developments elsewhere the hydro-electric schemes in North Wales were small, Nevertheless the pioneer exploitation of the water power resources of the Snowdonia region by the North Wales Power and Traction Company and their contribution to high voltage distribution over an extended area was a considerable achievement not paralleled elsewhere in this country. That adequate electricity supplies were essential to the nations economy was appreciated during Wor1d War One and the control then exercised by the Ministry of Munitions became the first direct Intervention by national government in the electricity supply industry. The effects of subsequent legislation on the industry are assessed Including the alternative proposals evaluated by the Electricity Commissioners when establishing a Joint Electricity Authority for North Wales and South Cheshire. The response by all sections of the industry to the McGowan Committee report of 1937 on electricity distribution is seen to be one of concern for their future. A small but notable contribution to electricity generation and distribution was made, particular1y in North Wales, by non-statutory suppliers. These have been identified and the history of a number of schemes examined. " .The work provides for the first time a comprehensive survey of the significant factors in the evolving electricity generation and distribution technology In the Merseyside and North Wales Area prior to 1948.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available